Albert Bethune Jr., grandson of the university’s founder, will be laid to rest on Saturday
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Albert McLeod Bethune Jr. was an early expert on Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU). After all, he had the distinction of living in the home with his famous grandmother and adopted mother, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, from 6 months old.
The Bethune family is remembering the patriarch as a man of principle and one who was a part of the legacy and heritage of the university and its founder.
Albert Bethune Jr. died on Feb. 14 at Capital Regional Medical Center in Quincy at age 96. He will be eulogized during a 3 p.m. service on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Gertrude Hyde Memorial Chapel at Bethune-Cookman University. Interment will be at Sunnyvale Cemetery.
Visitation is Friday, Feb. 23, 5 to 6:30 PM, with a wake service from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Gertrude Heyn Memorial Chapel. Visitation also is Saturday, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the chapel.
“He was raised on that campus and he knew every aspect of how the finances came about and how she was able to collaborate with those who were inspired to continue to help the school grow,” Charles Bethune said this week about his father.
“He knew the rich heritage and all of her greatness. He even knew how she dealt with her students.’’
Charles Bethune, 58, said he also lived in his grandmother’s house with his dad until he was 9 years old.
The home was located on then-604 Second Ave. (now Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard). Today, the university’s financial aid building is located there.
Albert Bethune Jr. was the son of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s only son, Albert Bethune.
When he was growing up on campus in his grandmother’s house, there were only four wooden buildings at the school. He also worked at the school with his grandmother.
Albert Bethune Jr.’s sister, Dr. Evelyn Bethune reflected, “My brother was an awesome person who lived his life to the fullest. He loved nothing more than his grandmother, Bethune-Cookman and his family.”
Bethune Jr. was a man of morals and values, she noted.
“He was a man of principles. He instilled those in his children. He taught us that we weren’t entitled to anything because of who we were. Just because we were born under the legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune you weren’t entitled to anything more than you were as a person,” his sister remarked.
Charles Bethune noted, “He taught us that anything that you wanted in life that you had to work for it and don’t look for any handouts. He encouraged you to do your best in education and don’t embarrass yourself because, if you do you embarrassing him,” she added.
The late Bethune Jr. instilled so much more in his children.
Charles Bethune explained, “He taught us to do for others as you would have them do for you. He was a man that if you showed loyalty he would extend it to you. He didn’t keep people around just to be around.
“He could relate anyone from a homeless person to the people in the top 1 percent in our society. He could relate life and experiences to anyone that he came in contact with. It’s not where you start but where you finished. He always encouraged people to persevere through whatever was hindering them from obtaining their goals and dreams.”
Albert Bethune Jr. was able to connect with everyone.
Charles Bethune expressed, “My father was humble enough to share his experiences with others that some other people wouldn’t be as forthcoming in doing so. He was a man that had nothing to hide about his wealth, health and how he lived every day.”
Bethune Jr. also was always there for the Bethune-Cookman’s leadership.
“I know Dr. (Edison) Jackson and my father had some sort of relationship when it came to what was best for the school. I’m sure my father called him on many occasions. I’m not sure if he took his advice,” Charles Bethune related.
“We’ve had plenty of conversations about the school’s current troubles. He always said that we’ll all be judged one day by the Almighty! Whatever you do in the dark, comes to light.’’
Albert Bethune Jr. graduated high school at the school his grandmother started in 1939 and went on to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he earned a degree in liberal arts.
He ended up working as a librarian at Bethune-Cookman for 43 years and is known as the institution’s first historian and archivist.
“My brother was smart enough where he could have been anywhere, but his relationship with our grandmother kept him here,” noted Dr. Evelyn Bethune.
Bethune Jr. was also known for sharing his stories with students that he encountered.
Charles Bethune reflected, “I’ll miss my father’s leadership and knowledge. He’ll be missed just by him being who he is. He was the type of person that I could go to for advice on anything.”
‘A proud Wildcat’
B-CU Interim President Hubert Grimes also reflected on Albert Bethune Jr’s impact in a statement.
“Mr. Albert Bethune was a proud Wildcat! Throughout life, he has garnered respect as a stalwart for the legacy of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, strengthening the University through timeless efforts to honor our core values and sacred heritage. He served as B-CU’s first mascot and was founder of the Bethune-Cookman University Inspirational Gospel Choir.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff and students, I extend heartfelt condolences to his wife, Marion and children and the entire Bethune family.
“Our prayer is that God will strengthen and encourage the family during this time of bereavement. I invite members of our community to pray for and offer signs of love and support for the Bethune family,” Grimes added.
Albert Bethune Jr. was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty; father, Albert Sr., daughter, Carolyn; and brother, Hobson Sr.
He is survived by his wife Marion (Quincy) and eight children, siblings, grandchildren, great grandchildren and other relatives. R.J. Gainous Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.